On June 8th Eto makes the second defense of his OPBF title as he takes on domestic foe Yuki Fukumoto (17-9, 5) in what is widely believed to be Eto's final defense before he moves on to chasing for world honours.
Eto first caught our attention back in 2013 when he engaged in back-to-back FOTY contenders. The first of those saw Eto claim the WBA interim title courtesy of an all-out war with Kompayak Porpramook. That bout, in Thailand, was one of the most exciting performance we've seen and it seemed like Eto was set to become a star. Just a fight later Eto lost that title, suffering a 12th round stoppage at the hands of the very capable Yodmongkol Vor Saenghtep.
In 2014 Eto returned to being a champion as he claimed the OPBF title with a dramatic 8th round TKO win against Filipino warrior Ardin Diale. Since then he has defended the title once, stopping Cris Paulino in the 10th round of a relative tame contest. That bout showed that Eto can box, even though he was being out boxed by Paulino at time, though was a much more reserved performance from the Japanese warrior.
Eto can box, as seen against Paulino, though brawling is much more natural to him and it's the brawling that has made us fans with his high octane fight style. Defensively he's very poor but he's managed to make his offense into his defense and he's shown a real grit and toughness which has helped him see him through some incredibly tough match ups, such as the Diale one.
Whilst we've managed to see plenty of Eto over the last few years we've got to admit we weren't really familiar with Fukumoto when this bout was announced. He has however been in with some pretty notable opposition suffering losses to Yota Sato, in a Japanese title fight, Silvester Lopez, Cris Paulino, Yusukue Sakashita and Toyoto Shiraishi. Worryingly many of those losses have come by stoppage.
On paper Fukumoto's best win is over former world title challenger Takashi Kunishge, back in 2011, though he does hold a few other notable victories including ones Toyoto Shiraishi, Ken Achiwa and Hyobu Nakagama, Unfortunately those wins, at best, have come against Japanese level foes with their best days behind them.
Although footage of Fukumoto is scant we do know he's not a big puncher, he's not the most elusive and that he appears to struggle under pressure. That's back up by the fact he's been stopped 5 times in his 9 losses. We suspect that this will be stoppage #6 with with Eto applying early pressure and Fukumoto wilting early in the contest, at least if the aggressive Eto turns up.
If Eto is out there to box there is a chance that we do see Fukumoto having success, though we really can't see how the challenger manages to win here given that he's up against a fighter who is so much better than men who have previously beaten him.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)